Lofton Finds Victory Lane at Berlin; Sets New Track Record Eddie Sharp Racing's Justin Lofton (No. 6 Lofton Cattle-Valvoline Instant Oil Change Toyota) joined James Buescher and Parker Kligerman as 2009 repeat winners in the ARCA RE/MAX Series...
Lofton Finds Victory Lane at Berlin; Sets New Track Record
Eddie Sharp Racing's Justin Lofton (No. 6 Lofton Cattle-Valvoline Instant Oil Change Toyota) joined James Buescher and Parker Kligerman as 2009 repeat winners in the ARCA RE/MAX Series on Saturday night at Berlin Raceway, capturing the Wolverine Power Systems 200 presented by Generac by 0.512 seconds over Matt Merrell (No. 32 ColinsHope.org-Red Line Oil Dodge/Win-Tron Racing), Chad Finley (No. 29 Auto Value Service Centers-AutoParts2020.com Chevrolet/BKR Racing), Pete Shepherd (No. 25 Venturini Motorsports-National Exhaust Systems Chevrolet) and Joey Coulter (No. 16 Darrell Gwynn Foundation-Tempest Cycles Chevrolet/Coulter Motorsports).
It was Lofton's second ARCA RE/MAX Series win of 2009 and third overall. The second year Eddie Sharp Racing driver, who trails Parker Kligerman by100 points in the Championship Point Standings, also won at Talladega Superspeedway in April. Through 12 of 21 ARCA RE/MAX Series events in 2009, there have been six different race winners; Lofton (Talladega, Berlin), James Buescher (Daytona, Kentucky), Parker Kligerman (Toledo, Michigan, Mansfield, Iowa, Kentucky), Patrick Sheltra (Salem), Sean Caisse (Rockingham) and Joey Logano (Pocono).
In addition to finding victory lane at Berlin Raceway, Lofton set a new one-lap track record at Berlin Raceway during Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell. Lofton's 16.857 second/93.540 mph lap around the 0.4375-mile short track bested the previous record of 16.963 second/92.955 mph set by Justin Allgaier in 2008.
Back-to-Back for ESR at Berlin
Eddie Sharp Racing has won the last two consecutive ARCA RE/MAX Series events at Berlin Raceway, with driver Scott Speed in 2008 and Justin Lofton this past weekend.
Of the four Eddie Sharp Racing drivers who competed at Berlin, the organization produced two top-10 finishes; a first-place finish for race winner Lofton and a seventh-place finish for Greenville, North Carolina's Craig Goess. Goess, a graduate of the NASCAR Camping World East Series for ESR, has enjoyed a string of five top-10 finishes in the last six races, highlighted by a career-best fourth at Kentucky Speedway on July 18.
Future Champs Have a History of Winning at Berlin
There have been 22 ARCA RE/MAX Series races at Berlin Raceway and the Series has produced 17 different race winners at the .4375-mile Marne, Michigan-based short track. Seven of those race winners have gone on to win ARCA RE/MAX Series championships at some point in their career. The most recent Berlin race winner-turned champion was Frank Kimmel in 2004.
Career Best Finishes for Three of the Top-5
Three of the top-5 finishers in Saturday's Wolverine Power Systems 200 presented by Generac either posted or matched their career best finishes in the ARCA RE/MAX Series, including Matt Merrell, who finished second in the No. 32 ColinsHope.org-Red Line Oil Dodge for Win-Tron Racing and Chad Finley, who finished third in the No. 29 Auto Value Service Centers-AutoParts2020.com Chevrolet for BKR Racing. Finley, son of former ARCA RE/MAX Series competitor Jeff Finley, has never finished outside of the top-10 in his three career ARCA RE/MAX Series starts (sixth at Toledo on May 17/ninth at Iowa on July 11/third at Berlin on July 25). Pete Shepherd, in a No. 25 Venturini Motorsports-National Exhaust Systems Chevrolet, matched a career best finish of fourth first achieved at Gateway Int'l Raceway in 2006.
Kligerman Maintains top-10 Streak
Cunningham Motorsports' Parker Kligerman, a development driver for Penske Racing, headed into Berlin hoping to join Harold Smith, Bruce Gould and Tim Steele as drivers who have won five ARCA RE/MAX Series races in a row since the tour's inception in 1953. Although he was unable to continue his winning streak, Kligerman maintained his trend of top-10 finishes in the ARCA RE/MAX Series by finishing sixth in the Wolverine Power Systems 200 presented by Generac. In 14 career starts since 2008, Kligerman has finished outside of the top-10 just once: May 9, 2009, when he finished 17th at Kentucky after a late-race spin while running in the top-5. Kligerman's sixth place finish at Berlin came despite the fact that he battled with flu-like symptoms all weekend.
"That's what champions are made of," said Kligerman. "They are made of making the best out of your bad days, and that's what we had today-a bad day. I'm feeling sicker and sicker as the adrenaline wears off. It was a rough day out there. No one seemed to have any room for us. Funny how that works out. We'll go to Pocono and make up for it, hopefully with a win."
Kligerman currently leads the ARCA RE/MAX Series Point Standings over Justin Lofton and Frank Kimmel. A rookie has won the ARCA RE/MAX Series points championship only five times in the 56-year-old history of the tour, beginning with Jim Romine in 1953, who was a rookie by default during the ARCA RE/MAX Series' inaugural season of competition. Other rookie champions included Larry Moyer in 1981, Tracy Leslie in 1988, Tim Steele in 1993 and Andy Hillenburg in 1995. Per the ARCA Rulebook, a rookie competitor cannot earn the championship and the rookie title in the same year.
From Short Tracking to Tricky Triangling
The diverse ARCA RE/MAX Series stock car tour heads from Western Michigan's Berlin Raceway to Long Pond, Pennsylvania's Pocono Raceway for the Pennsylvania 200 on Saturday, August 1 (live on SPEED at 1 p.m. and live Timing and Scoring/audio at http://www.arcaracing.com). The differences in the two facilities are staggering as Berlin measures in at 0.4375 miles in length while Pocono is 2.5 miles and triangular shaped.
"Obviously Berlin and Pocono are two very different racetracks," said Tom Hessert, driver of the No. 09 Cherry Hill Classic Cars Ford. "I think the entire length of Berlin is probably not even the length of the front stretch at Pocono. The top speed at Berlin is less than 100 mph and the top speed at Pocono is around 200 mph so you get a very different sensation of speed at the two tracks. Berlin races very much like a short track with beating and banging and battling side-by-side while Pocono is more of a superspeedway style type of racing where aerodynamics come into play. The sudden transition from short track to speedway would be much more difficult without my team, RAB Racing with help from Ken Schrader Racing, because they prepare our cars to adapt to each of the different tracks that the ARCA RE/MAX Series races on. Also, I am better able to make the transition from short tracks to speedways due to my experiences racing in USAC. When I was racing there we would go from a quarter-mile dirt track and then the next night we would sometimes race on a one-mile paved track so those experiences taught me to be adaptable."
Hessert's hometown of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, is located a little over 100 miles from Pocono Raceway.
Going for 49, err, 50
This weekend will mark the ARCA RE/MAX Series' 49th appearance to Pocono Raceway since 1983-if you're counting races on the 2.5-mile triangle only. The ARCA RE/MAX Series is actually preparing for its 50th appearance at Pocono this weekend if you include the first ARCA race contested at the facility in 1969 when the ARCA RE/MAX Series raced on a now defunct ¾-mile oval. Bobby Watson won the race in a Dodge and Benny Parsons was among the drivers who competed.
Casey Mears is the last Repeat Winner
In 2003 NASCAR Sprint Cup regular Casey Mears won back-to-back, same-day ARCA RE/MAX Series races at Pocono Raceway, becoming the first driver to win both ARCA Pocono Raceway events in a single season since Tim Steele did so in 2001. That feat will not be matched this year as June ARCA Pocono race winner Joey Logano is not entered for the August race.
Logano made history this year as the first driver to win in the ARCA RE/MAX Series, the NASCAR Nationwide Series and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in the same year. He is the first driver since Tony Stewart in 2003 to win in the ARCA RE/MAX Series and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in the same year.
ARCA RE/MAX Series Autograph Session in Bacardi Bistro on Friday ARCA RE/MAX Series drivers will sign autographs in the Bacardi Bistro, located next to the SPEED Stage, in the Infield of Pocono Raceway on Friday, July 31 from 3:30-4:30 p.m. Alli Owens, Tom Hessert, Patrick Sheltra and Craig Goess are among the growing list of drivers expected to participate.
Kyle Busch, David Ragan to Support ARCA-Owned Properties this August
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Kyle Busch and David Ragan will each make appearances at ARCA-owned properties this August. Busch will compete in a 100-lap CRA Late Model race on Friday night, August 14 at Toledo Speedway, which is owned by ARCA President Ron Drager and business man Roy Mott. Ragan will sign autographs for race fans at ARCA-owned Flat Rock Speedway on Saturday night, August 15.